Conspiracies against Pak media
By Azim M Mian
NEW YORK: Gilani-Zardari government aides have got perturbed because of objective criticism, disclosures of corruption scandals, economic set backs, incompetence and government’s ignorance of public issues raised by the media, and have expanded their conspiracies against outstanding and bold journalists from Islamabad to Washington.
Its obvious proof is a recent letter addressed after the assassination of Governor Salman Taseer to the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by the leading members of the anti-Pakistan lobby Congressmen Garry Ackerman, Peter King and their two colleagues support this impression.
The signatories of the letter had asked for not granting American visa to media men not condemning the killing of Salman Taseer and political and religious leaders supporting the act of the assassin. No name of any Pakistani journalist, political and religious personality was mentioned in the letter.
The letter was written by only four Congressmen out of 435 who are familiar with their anti-Pakistan stance.
Secretary Clinton has so far not responded to the contents of the letter but indications are there that the US State Department had prepared a list of journalists and others on whom entry in the US may be denied by cancelling or denying visas. News published in this regard had also named persons who may face the curbs.
When approached, an official of the US State Department told this correspondent that he was aware about the news, adding, the designated spokesperson was only competent to comment over the subject.
When insisted, the official sought anonymity and confirmed as backgrounder the communication by the four Congressmen. However, Secretary Clinton had so far not responded to the letter, he said.
He set aside the news as baseless about curbs on Pakistani journalists, saying that freedom of press and expression was the cornerstone of the US democratic system and principles of democracy. He said that neither any list of Pakistani journalists had been prepared nor it was being contemplated. The congressmen had also not mentioned names of any Pakistani newsmen in their letter.
Some elements cropped up when an effort was made to dig out facts with regard to the news. They are: 1. The letter of four congressmen came into limelight during the recent brief visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to Washington when the series of statements, editorials and condemnation of the killing of Salman Taseer was still on.
2. It is fact that Zardari during his stay in Washington and interactions with Americans and Pakistani diplomats had referred negatively about Pakistani media especially the Jang/Geo Group. He had tried to convince certain US officials that reports in the Pakistani media about his government were at the core of de-stabilisation of his government. In spite of will and commitments Pakistani media is the main hurdle in fulfilling the obligations of safeguarding American interests in Pakistan, he said.
3. It was in this scenario that the aides of the Zardari-Gilani government taking notice of the sentiments, perceptions and also complaints of their boss lobbied with the anti-Pakistan congressmen and made them to write a letter to Secretary Clinton. Without waiting a response or reaction from her, they also managed to get the news published about a long list of Pakistani newsmen and other leaders whose entry to the US was about to be restricted. It is interesting that the dateline of the news about the list being considered in Washington was Lahore. On the contrary the American Embassy in the country was also ignorant about any such under consideration list.
4. Informed circles are of the opinion that government aides frustrated with criticism had dispatched this story from Washington to build pressure on the media and appease President Zardari. It predominantly contained names of newsmen from the Jang Group.
No doubt the killing of Salman Taseer was a great tragedy but government aides are exploiting it for their interest and hatching conspiracies against the free media of the country and its chain has been extended up to Washington. It would have been better for them before going to such an extend that they had studied the US political system, democratic norms and informed sources of the US government.
Source: The News